Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
What is dialectical behaviour therapy?
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a treatment method that’s similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, emotional response and regulation, mental health issues, and the psychological and social aspects of relationship building.
Some people are more prone to react intensely to difficult and unexpected situations and they may experience emotional flooding – extremely uncomfortable and overwhelming feelings and thoughts. Many of these situations tend to be related to personal relationships with family or friends. Part of the theory underlying DBT is that some individual’s levels of psychological arousal fluctuate or increase significantly quicker than others, and they stay at an overall higher emotional level , which tends to take a longer amount of time to return to a general baseline levels where they can remain calm and more grounded.
How does dialectical behaviour therapy work?
The characteristics of DBT include being:
- Identify your personal strengths and build on them to expand your social skills and improve your self-identity.
- Recognize and identify your thoughts, beliefs and actions that result in your distress and correct faulty ways of thinking.
- Explore your relationships and work through any relationship issues. DBT may also include interactive activities that will help you to improve your interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, and distress tolerance skills.
- Action and behavior oriented
- You work towards making practical changes to your automatic behaviors that cause you distress.
- Skill building
- Gain a variety of skills and techniques aimed at soothing, calming, and helping you to make conscious choices.
When is dialectical behaviour therapy used?
A lot of individuals who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder tend to choose DBT as the main method for working with their issues because this type of therapy looks at improving interpersonal effectiveness, expanding awareness and mindfulness, aiding in emotional regulation and improving distress tolerance skills which are underdeveloped in individuals with this disorder. Also, because dysregulation leads to higher levels of suicidal ideation and/or self-destructive behavior, there is an emphasis on behaviors and safety. DBT has been used in treating other concerns as well, including:
- Anger management
- Eating disorders
- Conduct disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dealing with difficult people
- Dependant personality disorder
- Dissociative identity disorder
- Emotional regulation
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Self harming
- Sexual abuse and assault
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.